The Kennedys - Better Dreams
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Better Dreams (Appleseed, 2008)

The Kennedys

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

Think the Sixties are over? The hipster-hippie duo of husband and wife Pete and Maura Kennedy say nay, and have devoted an entire album "inspired by their dreams" to prove it. They hail from Northampton, Mass. where political leanings turn left, and some of the lyrical content here bears that out, as in "Give Me Back My Country" and "American Wish." Heavy-handed grave calls for Jefferson and Franklin could definitely roll the eyes of those not so like-minded.

Still, this record can really grow on you, with jingle-jangle guitar arrangements that evoke Roger McGuinn and appeals to a sitar when all else fails. (There is a country vibe on several tracks, but this is not exactly straightahead country or roots music).

The best tracks are almost all front-loaded, with the opener "Breathe" a breezy standout, followed by the catchy "Speed of Soul." Maura Kennedy's vocal delivery charms on command and ironically harmonizes best with people other than her husband. Her voice's most distinctive quality is how it holds together without turning ghoulish down at the lower registers.

When they focus more on singular topics that can serve as a metaphor, as in the haunting "Sago Mine," their twin talents win over new converts for sure. A little musical time travel can shed some light on the present, and the Kennedys have an agreeable peace train ride waiting for the willing.

CDs by The Kennedys

West, 2015 Better Dreams, 2008 Songs of the Open Road, 2006

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